His sisters are called: Darling, Honey, Sweet, Love and Sugar. His name? Abyong. If you think that’s funny, wait until you meet him in person.
I’d first come to know his punchy jokes that make his audience loosen up as he preaches the Gospel with manliness and gusto, before I’d come to know that his real name is Oliver Calo. And how did he end up being called Abyong and what does that mean? No one knows, except maybe his parents. But everyone who has lived or served with him knows that he’s more than just a funny guy. He is serious in following the Lord and bringing others to Jesus Christ.
It’s striking how he firmly encouraged me to give my all to God when I was discerning what to do after college. No wonder he had that strong conviction— because he did it himself. He made a commitment to be a serious Christian as a college student in Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao. And that led him to many decisions in life: be a full time youth worker, teach Math in high school, fly all the way to Manila to be a trainee in the brotherhood, and in 2006 become a lifelong committed brother.
Abyong is ready to go wherever the Brotherhood sends him as a sign of his obedience to the Lord. For several years, he served as a director of a ministry for high schoolers and, with his sincere love and of course with his humor, won many over to give their lives to God. But when he was asked to do backstage service as administrator of our university outreach, he gladly accepted it, making significant improvement in our events with his engineer mind and heart for service. We were not yet done admiring his contributions to the outreach when he was commissioned to serve as the branch leader of our young professionals’ movement called Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon (The Servant of the Lord). Until now he continues to disciple young men with his empowering leadership and practical wisdom.
For Abyong, leading a person to a relationship with Christ is a serious business even if it requires of him sleepless nights, a mountain to hike, the making of videos, or a stinky train ride during rush hour, he is up for it. He recently posted a photo of his former class on Facebook hoping one or two would reconnect, giving him an opportunity to share his faith with them. He wasn’t disappointed for his simple effort brought a number of them to the young professionals outreach.
Abyong seems to understand very well a saying we have in the brotherhood: “The reward for a well-done service is more service.” On top of his evangelistic work, he is all smiles when taking on the role of the household leader and trainer of the younger brothers. It is not surprising that the brothers in the Manila training household are not only seriously calling each other on to grow more in prayer and service, but also lavishly enjoying hilarious table conversations as influenced by Abyong.
And if he says, “I’d try anything to grow my hair again if that’s what it would take to love God more and bring more men to Him,” wouldn’t you think it’s funny? He is actually serious.